9 Best Compact Crossovers We've Driven in 2017
It's true. Compact crossovers are, by and large, kinda boring. But they make so much practical sense in the real world that they are the hottest-selling single segment in America. And we're here to tell you that there are a few options out there for those of us who actually like to drive.
With that in mind, we've ranked the following nine crossovers in order of how much we enjoyed spending time with them. Some are nothing but practical appliances on wheels, others offer powerful turbocharged engines, and at least one is, we think, a perfect intersection of the two. We tried to keep our selections for this list affordable, so premium offerings won't show up.
If you don't see a specific crossover on this list, it's probably because we don't recommend it. For instance, the Toyota RAV4 is missing from this list, despite the fact that it's the second-best-selling model in the segment. We think there are better options. We like the Jeep Cherokee, but think the Compass is a better buy. The Hyundai Tucson is nice, and has a high-tech dual-clutch transmission, but it's just about due for an update to stay competitive.
Without further ado, click on the image above to get started. As we drive more new compact crossovers, we'll adjust this list accordingly.
2017 Nissan Rogue
The Nissan Rogue got a pretty thorough refresh for the 2017 model year, with new styling inside and out, a comprehensive set of safety systems, and improvements to lower road noise and harshness. But it's still powered by the same 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission, and it still isn't class-leading in any meaningful way.
The Nissan Rogue is a credible compact crossover, but we think there are better options.
Research the 2017 Nissan Rogue
2017 Kia Sportage
The Kia Sportage's styling is a love/hate affair. If its bulbous looks don't turn you off, it's a pretty good compact crossover that you should probably consider. For ultimate sportiness, consider Kia's optional 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, which sends 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
Research the 2017 Kia Sportage
2018 Volkswagen Tiguan
The Volkswagen Tiguan starts out as a reasonably equipped and sensibly priced crossover at its base of $26,245. Problem is, it quickly rises from there. We tested out a loaded SEL Premium model with all-wheel drive, which carried an asking price of $39,950. Suffice it to say, the Tiguan is not a $40,000 vehicle, and anyone pushing one into that bracket may want to cross shop with the larger Atlas. Plus, the Tiguan's 2.0-liter turbocharged engine doesn't offer enough gumption to move 4,000 pounds of vehicle.
Still, VW's compact 'ute has some things to recommend it. It's roomy inside, the design is handsome, and it offers three rows of seats (albeit with very limited legroom). If it's just right for you, that's great — but we think you'd probably be happier with something else ... keep clicking.
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2018 Chevrolet Equinox
There's a lot to like about the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox. It's all-new, based on a smaller platform that cuts weight and improves driving dynamics over the model it replaces. Perhaps more interesting are Chevy's powertrain options. A small 1.5-liter turbo four kicks things off, and it performs reasonably well. A larger 2.0-liter turbocharged four spices things up, but it's the 1.6-liter diesel and its 39-mile-per-gallon highway rating that really make headlines.
Research the 2017 Chevrolet Equinox
2017 Subaru Forester
The 2017 Subaru Forester exists in this slot — on the better end of mid-pack — due to the merits of its 2.0XT trim level. It's certainly not a WRX, but it's the closest thing you can get in the compact crossover class. The Forester XT's 2.0-liter turbocharged engine puts out 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, and when paired with Subaru's exceptional all-wheel-drive technology, it's the hot rod of the segment.
On a more practical note, the Forester's visibility is excellent, and there's plenty of room inside. All of those bonuses, plus its powerful engine, make up for its last-generation infotainment and higher-than-average road noise.
Research the 2017 Subaru Forester
2017 Ford Escape
Ford hasn't held the compact crossover crown since 2013. Still, the Escape is a quality contender, with an impressive range of engine options. Ignore the base model's 2.5-liter four-cylinder, and skip ahead to the 1.5-liter EcoBoost. Or, if you relish the occasional stoplight drag race, go for the 2.0-liter EcoBoost, which puts down 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque.
Moving past engines, the Escape remains one of the better-handling compact crossovers on the market, with an optimal blend of dynamics and compliance. The Escape isn't exactly bargain-priced, but it undercuts the sales-leading Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, and it offers park assistance technology and a high-tech infotainment system with corresponding smartphone apps. It's definitely worth a look.
Research the 2017 Ford Escape
2017 Jeep Compass
If you have even an inkling that you'll spend some time off the beaten path in your compact crossover, you should definitely consider the Jeep Compass. In Trailhawk trim, the Compass is way more capable off-road than any of its owners are likely to require.
Moving past those Trail Rated credentials, the Compass is very attractive, with styling derived from the larger Grand Cherokee. The optional 8.4-inch UConnect infotainment system is nice, and there's nearly as much interior space as in the larger Jeep Cherokee.
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2017 Honda CR-V
For a large swath of buyers, the Honda CR-V is the best compact crossover available in America. It's 1.5-liter turbocharged engine and continuously variable automatic transmission are tuned perfectly. It's extremely roomy inside, and is handsomely styled inside and out. The ride is nice and firm while still being comfortable.
There are a lot of good reasons why the Honda CR-V sits atop the compact crossover sales race. There aren't any real demerits as long as five-passenger seating works for its buyer. But there's one vehicle that we like a bit better, mostly because it's just a bit more fun to drive.
Research the 2017 Honda CR-V
2017 Mazda CX-5
"If you're being dragged kicking and screaming out of a fun car and into a family vehicle, boy have we got a suggestion for you."
That's how we feel about the 2017 Mazda CX-5. It actually injects passion into the compact crossover segment. In fact, Mazda engineers went so far as to benchmark the Porsche Macan — a CUV that fits into this cross-section in size, but not in price or performance — when designing and finishing the CX-5. All that obsessive attention to details does wonders for the Mazda's driving dynamics.
While the 2017 Mazda CX-5 isn't perfect — we'd love more power and better fuel economy, though neither are terrible — it's simply the best option if you need a practical family car but don't want to hate driving it.